Theory and practice

Doug Henwood dhenwood at panix.com
Fri Aug 11 09:16:30 MDT 1995


At 8:43 PM 8/10/95, Tom Condit wrote:

>More to the point, the question of productive vs. unproductive
>work has already assumed an importance in the socialist movement
>at least in North America.  With the emergence of the women's
>liberation movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a large
>discussion of the role of women's labor in the household took
>place.  There were two unproductive (in my view) lines of theory
>which emerged.  One was a somewhat tortured attempt to twist
>Marxist theory into a theory of household work as "productive".
>The other was a rejection of Marxism, on the ground that if it
>didn't "value" something as important as household labor enough
>to term it "productive" it was hopelessly male chauvinist, or at
>least too old-fashioned to bother with. The latter line was of
>course a justification for many people of the path they were
>taking anyway.

I think it's interesting, though I'm not sure what it means, that this
debate on the role of the household emerged just as significant numbers of
women were entering the paid labor force out of both choice & necessity and
the suburban 1950s nuclear family "ideal" was under heavy political attack.
Is this an Owl of Minerva phenomenon?

Doug

--

Doug Henwood
[dhenwood at panix.com]
Left Business Observer
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